An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change

By Warren Bennis | Go to book overview

7
False Grit

This piece, written a dozen years ago, was one of the first to argue that assertiveness training is not enough. If women are to succeed, they must master the social etiquette of bureaucracy. They must learn how to manipulate the organizations that have effectively excluded them for so long. When I wrote it, I was thinking mostly about the formidable Florence Nightingale, who did everything that had to be done to lessen the misery of her lads, wounded in the Crimean War. She may not have been much of a nurse, but she was one hell of a change agent. And she's still an inspiring model in 1993.

There's a mythology of competence going around that says the way for a woman to succeed is to act like a man. One proponent of this new "man-scam" is Marcille Gray Williams, author of The New Executive Woman: A Guide to Business Success, who advises women to "learn to control your tears. Mary Tyler Moore may be able to get away with it, but you can't. Whatever you do, don't cry." Women in increasing numbers are enrolling in a variety of training and retraining programs which tell them that if they dress properly (dark gray and dark blue) and talk tough enough (to paraphrase John Wayne, "A woman's got to do what a woman's got to do"), they'll take another step up the ladder of success. Which explains why training programs for women (and men too) have become a booming growth industry.

What we see today are all kinds of workshops and seminars where women undergo a metaphorical sex change, where they acquire a tough-talking, no-nonsense, sink-or-swim macho philosophy. They're told to take on traits just the opposite of those Harvard psychoanalyst Dr. Helen H. Tartakoff assigns to women:

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An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • An Invented Life - Reflections on Leadership and Change *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword *
  • Preface *
  • 1 - An Invented Life: Shoe Polish, Milli Vanilli, and Sapiential Circles *
  • 2 - Is Democracy Inevitable? *
  • 3 - The Wallenda Factor *
  • 4 - The Coming Death of Bureaucracy *
  • 5 - The Four Competencies of Leadership *
  • 6 - Managing the Dream *
  • 7 - False Grit *
  • 8 - On the Leading Edge of Change *
  • 9 - Searching for the Perfect University President *
  • 10 - When to Resign *
  • 11 - Followership *
  • 12 - Ethics Aren't Optional *
  • 13 - Change: the New Metaphysics *
  • 14 - Meet Me in Macy's Window *
  • 15 - Corporate Boards *
  • 16 - Information Overload Anxiety (and How to Overcome It) *
  • 17 - Our Federalist Future: the Leadership Imperative *
  • Index *
  • Permission Acknowledgments *
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